NZ MP votes for anti-piracy law hours after tweeting about her love of pirated music

A reader writes, "In a beautiful twist of irony, New Zealand parliament member Melissa Lee has been caught in a copyright quagmire. It turns out that just hours before she spoke out in support of the controversial new copyright law being rushed through parliament, she tweeted how pleased she was with a compilation of K-Pop songs a friend copied for her."

Surprised by the call-out, Lee defended herself by saying that the songs were downloaded legally and paid for. But unfortunately for her that doesn't mean much. As the National Business Review points out, when a friend makes a copy of songs that were legally bought, the recipient of the 'gift' is still guilty of copyright infringement.

So it appears that Lee got her first strike already, and since the burden of proof is on the alleged infringer under the new legislation, it's up to her to prove that she's innocent. That's only fair, right?

Although it's easy to call Lee's mistake out as hypocrisy, it might be even worse than that. What if she truly believes that copying a legally bought song for a friend is okay? That would mean that even legislators who vote on copyright legislation don't fully grasp what they're doing.

Kiwi MP Called Out As Pirate After Passing Anti-Piracy Law


  1. Wow… just… holy crap. Are there ANY decent politicians, ANYWHERE in the world? I am soooo depressed. We’re doomed.

  2. I’m so glad I leave the country on Thursday, otherwise I’d be booking myself into a private clinic to get my palm permanently grafted to my face. Sigh.

    1. Don’t come to Canada or you will need a headdeskectomy. One of the cabinet ministers here was trying to pretend to be one of the plebs by tweeting about how the horrendous industry sanctioned copyright legislation his party was trying to push through would legalise all of the copies of songs he and his family shared on various audio devices.

    2. You better not be taking the Gravy Rainbow with you!

      I actually find myself liking Melissa Lee better than the rest of our NZ parliamentarians, because at least she’s open about her vast hypocrisy.

  3. I wouldn’t exactly call this minor story a “a beautiful twist of irony” or even a “quagmire”
    – it’s an itsy bitsy tweet, for goodness sake

    Though Lee apparently responded to the story, in Lee’s tweet there’s no mention of songs being copied. Calling hypocrites to the carpet for being hypocrites rarely adds up to anything. Hypocrisy is the fuel that feeds politicians

    1. A compilation a friend did.
      Sounds like the same thing, ie someone copied some music they had and gave it to someone.

  4. Have politicians ever took the time to understand what they’re voting on?

    Here in the US, they just ‘hire’ college students to read things for them, and come up with a short version.

  5. Sigh – she speaks in parliament on this topic and is completely clueless – and the worst part is she doesn’t even understand that she’s clueless, the worst sort of ignorance, by someone we have elected to mark smart choices on our behalf

    Look what’s illegal here is copying copyrighted information – it doesn’t matter if the media is the ‘net or a CD or the tool you use is a CD burner or bittorrent it’s not the tool or the media that’s illegal – it’s the act of copying and we already have laws against that

    Still her compatriot, in the same party, who stood up in parliament blamed the whole internet for turning into SkyNet and trying to take over the world sounded loonier

    Well there’s an election this year, time to turf them out

    1. It does point out that behind most politics is just plain ignorance and lack of understanding…

      There. Fixed it for you.

  6. I think part of the confusion is a lot of folks don’t understand what an MP3 is or how easy it is to copy. Or even understand how CD-Rs work as opposed to CDs.

    1. “a lot of folks don’t understand what an MP3 is”

      Most politicians have assistants to understand things for them

      1. That’d be fine if it was the assistants who were the targets of lobbyist largess and who ultimately decided which way to vote in parliament.

        1. “That’d be fine if it was the assistants who were the targets of lobbyist largess…”

          Political assistants and hapless flunkies tend to get as much wheel greasing and
          as many lobbyist gifts as their employers

      2. True. But most folks don’t understand tech to the point I feel sometimes we live in a gadget saturated world of luddites.

  7. yes, a politician passing laws without understanding their impact. wouldn’t it be great if this flap actually raised her awareness as to how IP law turns everyone into criminals and restricts free speech.

    (shower, reading AND bed .. all in the same night, with an exclamation point! twitter really living up to its potential there. at least it ends with a bang.)

  8. I would lol if it wasn’t so sad.
    But we have to give up the illusion that all the people who now own a computer and have a Facebook/Twitter account have any clue of what they`re doing at all. Most of them are the same technical illiterates that they were 15 Years ago – When they did not know how to program their VCR and laughed at you for sitting 8 hours a day in front of a screen.
    And that’s OUR fault. For not trying hard enough to teach them at least the basics. I know it’s frustrating to explain the same shit over and over again, but I believe it is our responsibility. Who else is gonna save mankind ;)
    Recently someone at work told me he(28 yo) baught a new (700€)Computer. I know that pretty much all he does is using a wordprossesor and a browser. So I asked him why he baught it. He said his old one was “full”.

    I did not say a thing. But I’ve should have. Poor clueless bastard I thought. A couple of days later I decided to give him the computer version of the “birds&bees” talk. It took nearly 2 hours and a lot of annoying (ANNOYING!!!) questions – but he finally understood (at least a on veeeryy basic level)how PCs work. And you know what? He was happy about it! Finally he was able to demystifie that magic box on his desk.
    Another recent episode: I went over to a girlfriends(25 yo) house to watch a Movie that I brought on an USB stick. She really liked the movie and asked if she could show it to her sister. Sure I said and copied it per drag&drop on her notebook.
    She then asked me “Is it ok if I bring it back next week?”

    I stared at her with my mouth open for a couple of seconds and finally managed to say something like “no problem”.
    I have not decided yet if and when I’ll give her the talk…

    1. I can beat that.

      About 4 years ago I showed my flatmate Google Maps, her first reaction was to run outside and wave at the sky. Not even joking.

      1. lol !

        I had a similar encounter when a friend opened GoogleMaps on his iPhone (sigh!) and thought his car was stolen because he could not see it in his driveway…

  9. Comment anon #14 is so funny and poignant it should be its own thread. we all have stories like that.

    1. “Comment anon #14 is so funny and poignant it should be its own thread. we all have stories like that.”

      Well I’m thinking it needs an entire comedy sketch show series not just a thread. Half of us would be laughing our behinds off and the other half going “I don’t get it” – making us laugh even more.

      (And it may have been #14 when you looked but it’s #15 now – BB holds comments and then inserts them in the time order they were made as opposed to published, resulting in numbers being largely irrelevant. Basically it’s broke.)

  10. When we’re getting sold out so hard by our ‘representatives’ so fucking blatantly for so long (most of my 36 years feel tainted by such continuous disenfranchisement), declaiming such crap in the strongest possible terms is obviously just bleating in the wind.

    It’s beyond time we stopped expecting to be able to stem the tide of this endemic corruption, the steady increase of which has become an imperceptible background hum, with mere words. First, we need to find some way of deftly illustrating the scale of the crime (you could start with 23/12/13… describe why the Chicago school of economic thought is such an utter crock of shit yet dovetails so nicely with the agenda of the elite, and so on…), in order to shake folks out of their inured complacency… and then, actual fucking action is called for.

    Of what sort, I have very little idea. But people need to start collectivising against this war on the poor*, which is coming to a head pretty soon…

    *You. Poor in this context is everyone but the ultra-rich; everyone who’s getting poorer in real terms.

    What bugs me about the shape of the big picture is that it seems apparent to me that we’d actually stand a pretty decent chance of saving the world if we were to start seriously investing in human potential and the necessary social infrastructure to support it… but instead, those at the top are presumably just bent on impoverishing the rest of us to the point they’ll be able to fly over seas of our rotting corpses to the few remaining nice bits of a dying planet.


  11. “That would mean that even legislators who vote on copyright legislation don’t fully grasp what they’re doing. ”

    Did we ever think otherwise?

    I actually read a story in the paper today that quoted a few book publishers/writers as stating that piracy for books could be ‘as devistating as for the music industry’. I know right? I still remember the music industry, a distant memory … music, a once loved artform, now gone forever due to copyright infringement. Seriously though, what do they even mean when they say that?

  12. If votes can be bought with images and promises, then office seekers will fabricate images and promises.

    It’s up to voters to raise the bar.

  13. maybe we can use this law against them, and get all the politicians and people who agree with the law knocked offline and blacklisted from the internets :D

    1. Does that mean I can complain to Joe Satriani about Coldplay? Someone ought to be held to account.

  14. Of course, the friend could have compiled the mix out of songs that Ms Lee had legally downloaded (as someone noted on Techdirt), which would then probably be legal (YMMV. The MAFIAA would, of course, insist that this is a separate type of use, and so needs an extra payment).

    That’s not the way it reads though – Ms Lee has apparently also commented on how K Pop has benefitted from filesharing.

    Presumably MPs, like our lords and masters in commerce, are above the law.

  15. This is pretty much the National Party.
    Their unofficial spokeperson for drug policy wrote to the Health Minister a few years back (when these guys weren’t running the country) asking him if there were plans to ban dihydrogen monoxide.

  16. They just do what they’re told… whether it’s U.S., Canada, Britain, or “down under”, these legislators don’t understand the underlying fundamentals OR the long-term ramifications. All they know is a lobbyist dropped by with a pop idol to tell them how they can make the pop idol happy, and by God they’re going to do it without taking any time to actually think about the bill.

  17. At the risk of getting flame-struck, isn’t the main problem that with digital copies and the internet, there’s no real way of legally allowing a “reasonable” amount of copying?

    Previous to this, a “natural” compromise had allowed some copying, but that was restricted by physical proximity and degrading copy quality.

    Now, we’re in a different situation, where from a technical standpoint, allowing any copying is to allow unlimited copying. Worse still for music and video, their market is mostly young people for whom (in large part) it’s simply stupid to pay for something that you can get for free.

    The NZ minister was no doubt living in the old world. A compilation tape for a friend is okay but giving it to 10,000 people isn’t. In the legislation, she sees an attempt to prevent people giving music to 10,000 people without realizing that the *only* way to do this is to prevent her getting a compilation tape from a friend.

    Thanks to technology, the ability to compromise is gone. The creators (artists & labels) will either get total legal control or essentially lose all control.

    1. Plenty of people have made 10,000 copies of physical CD’s, that’s where audio ‘piracy’ started, and was blamed for killing music back then just how digital piracy is being blamed now – because as I’m sure you’ve noticed, music has died – or, more accurately, a few big producers have lost a couple percent on their most recent bonus.

      We’re dealing with a bunch of corrupt retards here, there’s no room for logical discussion.

    2. There’s actually quite a bit of scholarly research into the Grateful Dead business management theory, because it was so successful for them.

      Allowing your fans to share your music is actually a great way to create new fans who also buy your merchandise and spread the word to their friends.

  18. Thanks to BB for responding to the scam post so quickly, I prob. should have just reported it tho..
    Also, nice to see ‘petard’ (as in ‘hoist by her own’) above; you get a better class of tag on BoingBoing…:)

  19. I’m not excusing her behavior… but when in college 4 years ago, I had to work with other students on teams. I always got the impression – that no matter how smart (engineering) my classmates were – they often knew very little about what made the tech work (computers, software, the web). I even see that with my slightly younger sisters generation – they know how to tweet, use rss (barely), use facebook, they know next to nothing about how a computer actually works.

    I always though my parents generation was the last generation of computer luddites (except my parents – they both were in computers in the early days), but I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as computers get more advanced, to the point they require no maintenance (eg, a blender), regular people will be able to effectively use them, even if they have no clue what goes on inside.

    1. I would argue the opposite: those of us who are old enough to have been using computers before the PC era actually had to have a greater understanding of what was going on or else our programs (often self-written) wouldn’t work.

      I’m not complaining about point-and-click (cameras or computers) because most of the time, I like to concentrate on what I want to do as opposed to figuring out how to get the machinery to do what I want, but it definitely mystifies the process for those young enough to have never worked on a mainframe or seen a C: prompt.

    2. You don’t do maintenance on your blender? Don’t expect it to last more than 35 or 40 years, then.

  20. most idiots voting on these technology related laws cant even turn their laptops on by themselves…

  21. Great illustration of a huge problem — let the industry come up with a new crime and define it any way they want. Since industries “create” jobs and therefore tax income, believe them, and support them by creating legislation around the new crime.

    But never, ever consider whether the new crime’s definition infringes upon rights consumers already held, or criminalize common behavior.

  22. “Although the most acute judges of the witches and even the witches themselves, were convinced of the guilt of witchery, the guilt nevertheless was non-existent. It is thus with all guilt.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

  23. I see this as the narcissistic need for society at large to broadcast everything they are doing 24-7, as if anyone gives a shit that she’s taking a shower? When did we become a world where people felt the need to tell others that they are doing personal grooming activities. The sad part is someone on the other end wants to read about them showering.

    1. “I see this as the narcissistic need for society at large to broadcast everything they are doing 24-7, as if anyone gives a shit”

      I think there’s a large group that simply does not realise that they are broadcasting to everyone on the net. They think they just broadcast for the people that give a shit what are they doing.

      Most of our Firefighting stations have websites that list their activities, so when you saw a firetruck rushing by today you will be very likely able to find out what was going on the next day. It’s also a source for newspapers etc.
      They also put there announcements of firedrills. Recently a local firestation spokesperson got really pissed because people read on the site that there’s going to be a drill – and in effect didnt care about the spectacle going on in front of their house.
      This guy was not able to understand that if he puts his announcement in the public internet, people will read it. He actually thought that only firemen could read the firestations website…

  24. Warney Calum
    @melissaleemp Sorry for whistleblowing your K-pop copyright infringement the other night. Didn’t mean for Gower to get involved. Are we ok??

    melissaleemp Melissa Lee
    @Warney lol. Does it count if the friend is the composer?

  25. Melissa Lee’s ignorant hypocrisy is certainly amusing, but I’m surprised that no one has yet posted what has become the most infamous video of this sad debacle.

    Behold the vast understanding of National MP Katrina Shanks:

  26. Melissa Lee is an idiot. She once said during a by election that a proposed highway extension would divert criminals from south Auckland (lower socio-economic neighborhood) away from the electorate she was standing for.

    Big brouhaha here in NZ. Understandably South Aucklanders were a bit pissed off with her insinuating that South Auckland is rife with criminals (or possibly insinuating that their criminals would be to stupid to work out how to use an off ramp).

    She’s a joke, even John Key (the prime minister and leader of her party) said that her comments were stupid, and the above is just one example in her absolute debacle of a by election campaign. I am a kiwi Asian like her, and hate to think that this woman is representing us is parliament.

  27. research into the Grateful Dead business management theory

    Indeed, one *can* build an entire business model around, for example, continuous touring, and that may well be the future, it strikes me as a bit sad for future musicians as it’s a very hard and often lonely life.

    or, more accurately, a few big producers have lost a couple percent on their most recent bonus.

    Sorry to pick on you, but I have to say that I find this particular attitude (widely prevalent, sad to say) extremely corrosive. The concept that there are fat-cats everywhere that are rolling in money, is for the most part, a convenient fiction to justify any action we choose to take. No doubt there are a few fairly well-off producers (or musicians or whatever group we choose today), but these are vastly outnumbered by the large mass of people simply trying to make a middle or even lower class living in their occupation of choice.

    I don’t really care if people download music or not; there are lots of circumstances that might justify it in my personal context (sharing a song or two with a friend, no money, etc.), but I have to say I find contemptible the attempt to justify it the action in moralistic terms because I’ve heard that somebody somewhere has too much money. *That* is moral cowardice.

    1. Continuous touring?

      The Grateful Dead Business Model

      Sample paragraph:

      As Barnes and other scholars note, the musicians who constituted the Dead were anything but naive about their business. They incorporated early on, and established a board of directors (with a rotating CEO position) consisting of the band, road crew, and other members of the Dead organization. They founded a profitable merchandising division and, peace and love notwithstanding, did not hesitate to sue those who violated their copyrights. But they weren’t greedy, and they adapted well. They famously permitted fans to tape their shows, ceding a major revenue source in potential record sales. According to Barnes, the decision was not entirely selfless: it reflected a shrewd assessment that tape sharing would widen their audience, a ban would be unenforceable, and anyone inclined to tape a show would probably spend money elsewhere, such as on merchandise or tickets. The Dead became one of the most profitable bands of all time.

    2. The concept that there are fat-cats everywhere that are rolling in money, is for the most part, a convenient fiction to justify any action we choose to take.

      I am guessing you don’t personally know anyone who works for a major record label and hence are not privy to the true insanity that exists within. I’ve heard stories of audio to be cut with promo videos being sourced via bit torrent.

    3. I am shocked that the Mods (Anti!?) dont approve of my use of the B word in reference to this Melissa Lee ignoramus, so I have adjusted the filename of the image so it is more to your approval:

      Now, as I was saying, this female dog needs to prove to us that she is innocent instead of trying to diffuse the issue with ambiguous weasel words. We are not “jumping to conclusions” as she claims, but merely following logic. You didn’t infringe copyright? Prove it.

      This female dog deserves all the vitriol that is forthcoming:

  28. and there I was, thinking an MP3 was Rodney Hyde, Bill English and John Key in a consensual adult encounter!!

  29. Whats the point of fast internet if you don’t have anything to download? It’s obvious that people with 80GB of broadband pirate and download stuff, and so what’s the point of having that much internet? Phone Companies will run out of business. Stupid Politicians won’t get any more votes and we will be restricted from our freedom.

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